Author Archive

3 Questions for Guy Kawasaki

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki recently released Enchantment, his 10th book. Robert Cialdini, the author of the classic book Influence, said of Guy’s new book, “Kawasaki provides insights so valuable we all wish we’d had them first.”

To celebrate the launch of Enchantment, we asked Guy three questions about the book. (You can order the book here or watch Guy speaking about the book’s themes here.)

1. In the course of writing Enchantment, what’s the one thing you learned/discovered that has had the most impact on your life?

I learned about the generosity of my social following. When I needed fresh examples of likability, trustworthiness, launch techniques, ways to break down resistance, and so on, I received dozens of them via Twitter and my blog. I also solicited people’s personal stories of being enchanted and received dozens of those too. Towards the end of writing, I asked for volunteers to critique the book, and approximately 300 people stepped forward. The point is that I learned about the generosity of strangers, and that has made me cognizant that I should be more generous too.

2: Being enchanting is in our self-interest; it lets us attract supporters for our ideas, earn buy-in from colleagues, charm new acquaintances, and so on. Do you think there’s there a fine line or a wide berth between being enchanting and being manipulative?

There is a wide berth. The acid test is whether the outcome of the enchantment benefits the enchantee–really benefits, not, “I did him a favor by convincing him to buy what I was selling.” Don’t get me wrong: it’s okay if there is an alignment of interests where you and the enchantee both benefit, but the enchanter shouldn’t be the primary beneficiary.

The acid test of the acid test is, “Would I still try to catalyze this change if I had absolutely nothing to gain?” For example, if you haven’t worked for Apple for ten years, and you still try to convince people to buy Macintoshes because you know that’s the right computer for them. Or, if you tell people to fly Virgin America to Fort Lauderdale instead of other airlines to Miami, and you don’t work for Virgin America. That’s enchantment.

3: What’s something simple that anyone could try today to become 2% more enchanting?

2% is that a typo? Who cares about 2% improvement? Forget all that Japanese stuff about the relentless pursuit of incremental improvement. Here’s one thing most people can do that will make them stand out from the crowd: Answer email within forty-eight hours. Almost no one does this. I try my hardest and can’t do it either. But it is the simplest—albeit also maybe the hardest—way to become a digital enchanter.

Gone GoDaddy Gone

If you’ve never used GoDaddy for your domain names, let me try to describe the experience. Have you ever been walking down the street in NYC or Las Vegas and someone shoves a flyer in your face? Well, imagine that there were 400 of those flyer-shovers circled around you, flashing their ads in front of you (ADD .CZ DOMAIN FOR ONLY $3.99 FOR 2 YEARS!!) and obstructing your progress.

And now imagine that there is exactly one of those flyers that you really, really need to grab (so you can, like, renew your organization’s core domain name).

Not that there’s any bitterness here.

But, today, I made my escape! Thanks to a brilliantly simple post by Cord Jefferson at GOOD, I’m free. It took about 30 minutes to move 15 domains to the soothingly spare site iWantMyName. It’s easy, even for techno-dummies like yours truly.

Btw, if GoDaddy’s link-assault-factor isn’t enough to drive you to the exits, then may I suggest two alternate motivations: (1) here’s the swashbuckling GoDaddy founder killing elephants (but only to help the local farmers!); or (2) GoDaddy’s notorious marketing strategy (i.e., boobs).

Middle East geography for dummies

If you’d have trouble finding Iran or Afghanistan on a map, check out this sticky 1-minute Middle East geography lesson (courtesy of Kid Ethnic).

Self-control is exhaustible — for dogs too?!

In Switch, we discuss some fascinating research in psychology that shows that our self-control is an exhaustible resource — that we can “tire it out,” as though it were an overworked muscle. (Check out this essential academic paper by Baumeister et al, or for the Cliff’s Notes version, see this video.)

Now comes a piece in Scientific American holding that dogs experience the same “exhaustibility.” Dogs who have been asked to “stay” in place for a long time — which burns their self-control, as any dog owner surely knows — are less able/willing to stick with a frustrating task (specifically, trying to get a treat out of a toy that is actually impenetrable).

The researchers close their article with this provocative statement: “It appears that the hallmark sense of human identity—our selfhood—is not a prerequisite for self-discipline. Whatever it is that makes us go to the gym and save for college is fueled by the same brain mechanisms that enable our hounds to sacrifice their own impulses and obey.”

Elevator pitch meets South Park

This is a funny satire of a buzzword-laden entrepreneurial pitch to venture capitalists. Be forewarned: There’s lots of bad language. (h/t Paul Hudnut)